Javier Bardem No Country For Old Men

Javier Bardem in the Oscar-winning Miramax film "No Country For Old Men"

Credit: Miramax

Would Miramax + Overture = new mini-major?

Gores brothers could have something intriguing on their hands

There is a lot of nervousness in the specialty business these days.  Besides the stable confines of Fox Searchlight, Focus Features and Sony Pictures Classics, there haven't been many consistent distributors of independent or prestige films over the past decade.  Sure, IFC Films and Magnolia Films have carved their own niche, but they don't really serve as a launching point for crossing over to mainstream popularity let alone profitability for indie financiers. Instead, the list of failed or abandoned outfits includes Paramount Vantage, Warner Independent, Picturehouse, Fine Line and First Look.  But, could a possible merger between two other unwanted outfits change all that?

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Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin in The Piano

Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin in the Oscar-nominated Miramax release "The Piano."

Credit: Miramax

Say it isn't so: Weinsteins' deal to reclaim Miramax falls apart

Disney returning to other bidders for the mini-major

So much for the happy ending.  After weeks of speculation that it was a done deal, negotiations have broken down between the Weinsteins and the Walt Disney Company for the brothers to reclaim the Miramax brand and film catalog.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the deal broke up over two issues.  First, how the company would be integrated into the Weinsteins' current outfit, The Weinstein Company, and second, the inability of partner Ron Burkle to raise the $625 million the partners had bid.  The paper reports Burkle was putting in $300 million of his own, but looking for outside financiers to come up with the remaining $325 million.  That has not worked out.

Sadly, the Weinsteins planned to formally announce their reunion with Miramax, the company they founded in 1979 and named after their parents, sometime over the past week at the Cannes Film Festival.  As the days passed, the announcement from the south of France never came. 

Disney is now expected to approach one of the other final bidders (and a set of brothers), Alec and Tom Gores.  It's unclear how low the price will go considering Disney was originally hoping for $700 million.

The Miramax library features Oscar winning films such as "Shakespeare in Love," "No Country For Old Men" and critically acclaimed hits including "Kill Bill," "Good Will Hunting," "Scream" and "Pulp Fiction."

However, it's worth noting that Harvey and Bob Weinstein are legendary for continuing to resurrect themselves and their businesses.  Is it possible they can still find a way to reclaim their beloved Miramax brand?  Stay tuned...
 

Shia LaBeouf and Michael Douglas at the world premiere of Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival

Shia LaBeouf and Michael Douglas at the world premiere of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Cannes 2010: 'Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps' generates Oscar buzz for Douglas

What did the world's critics think of Oliver Stone's long awaited sequel?

One of the biggest surprises of the Spring was 20th Century Fox's decision to move Oliver Stone's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" from its long held April release date to September.  This put the intriguing sequel to the iconic '80s drama smack dab at the beginning of awards season and primed for all sorts of Oscar talk whether it was deserved or not.  Things got more curious when the studio and Stone decided to bring the film to this year's Cannes Film Festival a full four months before its worldwide release.  Traditionally, that's the sort of move you make when you're extremely confident about your film's critical prospects or reviews will have little impact on your box office ("The Da Vinci Code" immediately comes to mind in that category).  So, what's the verdict?  Mixed, but entertained, at least for now.

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Betty White at the Time 100 gala.

Betty White at the Time 100 gala.

Credit: AP Photo/Evan Agostini

Latest Facebook Campaign: Betty White, Oscar host

90,000 followers and counting, but what does the Academy think?

Facebook followers are intent to show that it's not just Twitter that's causing social and political change at a grass roots level.  Earlier this year, one intrepid Facebook friend started a campaign to have Betty White host "Saturday Night Live." It turns out it was Betty who was the most skeptical of doing the gig, not producer Lorne Michaels, but the result was 550,000 plus fans helping to spur one of the better and memorable "SNL's" of the past few years.  Now, a new Facebook group wants to take White's resurgence to a new level by championing her candidacy to host of the 83rd Academy Awards.

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Robert Downey Jr and Gwyneth Paltrow at the world premiere of "Iron Man 2"

Was there just a little too much Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow in the media over the past few weeks?

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

UPDATED: 'Iron Man 2': makes only $128.1 million - blockbuster or summer box office underachiever?

Update: May 10, 2:52 PM - The actual figures are in for this weekends box office and surprise, surprise, "Iron Man 2" generated $128.1 million over the 3-day weekend.  That still put the sequel in the fifth slot all time, but the figure was off an eyebrow raising $5.5 million. A discrepancy that big won't be lost on Paramount's competitors.

In hindsight to the original post below, that puts "Iron Man 2" approximately $30 million behind projections before its debut. 

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Being the first movie out of the gate during the highly profitable summer movie season is never easy, but when you're the sequel to a surprise hit that helped sell a comic book company for $4.3 billion there is even more pressure to deal with.  That was the case for "Iron Man 2" this weekend and its strong, but not spectacular estimated gross of $133.6 million.

After the original "Iron Man" grossed an unexpected $98 million on its way to over $318 million two years ago, the expectations were high for the second go around.  Robert Downey, Jr. became one of  Hollywood's all-time comeback kids (did you think Jude Law was the reason "Sherlock Holmes" became a monster hit?), original director (and fan favorite) Jon Favreau was back, Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke agreed to play the film's villain Whiplash and Scarlett Johansson seemed more than sexy enough to tease teenage boys as the Black Widow.  Plus, unknown to many, the Walt Disney company's acquisition of Marvel Studios injected a bit more capital into "Iron Man 2's" budget (a reported $170 million overall) after complaints Marvel's thriftiness embarrassed even the most conservative industry accountants.  Oh, and did we mention that ever since the sequel was announced it had been one of the most polled "must see" movies across the board?

So, with a record 4,380 screens at its disposal, industry polling services saying it was off the charts (one service predicted $140 million plus, the other two went for $150 million plus) there was an increasing amount of optimism that "Iron Man 2" would come close to breaking "The Dark Knight's" $158.4 million record.  And if not, i would be damn close.  Even without the higher ticket prices of 3-D!

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard in "Inception"

Leonardo DiCaprio and Marion Cotillard in a more romantic moment in "Inception."

Credit: Warner Bros.

Watch: Will 'Inception' surprise as the summer's biggest tearjerker?

Christopher Nolan's latest mind bender packs an emotional wallop

After "The Dark Knight," director Christopher Nolan has reached a status where every new film he makes will have a serious amount of anticipation surrounding it.  The first few teasers or his latest endeavor, "Inception," hinted at something special, a Leonardo DiCaprio thriller that might truly leave you guessing at just what exactly is going on.  The first complete trailer, on the other hand, promises something much more.

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Samuel L. Jackson discusses "Mother and Child."

Samuel L. Jackson talks "Mother and Child."

Watch: Samuel L. Jackson and Annette Bening navigate 'Mother and Child'

Two acclaimed actors discuss Rodrigo Garcia's new melodrama, the Weinsteins and more

Rodrigo Garcia faced a long road bringing "Mother and Child" to the screen.  Financing independent films has never been easy and in this current economy and the increasingly undependable home entertainment market it's becoming almost non-existent.  Through perseverance Garcia was able to cobble enough money to get his melodrama to the big screen and a premiere at last year's Toronto Film Festival.  Now, Sony Pictures Classics is bringing "Child" to theaters slowly,  but surely, across the country.

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Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart at the premiere of "New Moon."

Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart at the premiere of "New Moon" in Westood in November.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' to premiere at 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival

'Kids Are All Right,' 'Despicable Me,' 'Mayler on the Couch' highlight this year's slate

Film Independent announced the selections for the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival this year which will move from its Westwood neighborhood home of five years to downtown Los Angeles. 

For movie fans, the highlight is no doubt the world premiere of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," which will debut on June 24 at the Nokia Theater at LA Live.  The 7,000 seat auditorium is no stranger to big movie premieres as it premiered "Michael Jackson's This Is It" last October.  To say it will be even more of a scene with stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and the rest of the "Twilight" crew in attendance  is something of an understatement, but it will provide a huge publicity boost for LAFF.  That said, Summit might have to go to Dodger Stadium for "Breaking Dawn" to out do this one.

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Steven Spielberg

He may have been jealous of James Cameron's "Avatar," but Steven Spielberg is heading for the "War Horse" next.

Credit: AP Photo

Steven Spielberg takes a prestige turn with 'War Horse'

WW I drama centers on a boy's search for his horse

After shooting the motion-capture picture "The Adventures of Tin-Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn," which has a long post-production process, Steven Spielberg has been debating what to direct next.  After considering a biopic about George Gershwin and the Sci-Fi thriller "Robopocalypse," the cinema icon has finally decided to return to the front with "War Horse."

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Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Fair Game

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Cannes Film Festival entry "Fair Game."

Credit: Summit Entertainment

Oscar Watch: Summit ready to thrill with Cannes contender 'Fair Game'

Plus: Thoughts on Ricky Gervais returning to the globes and more

Summit Entertainment has worked hard to broaden its image as just the "Twilight" studio and winning the Best Picture statue for "The Hurt Locker" this past March was a huge step.  Along with the solid performance of the thriller "The Ghost Writer" in limited release ($14 million in no more than 819 theaters), the mini-major is slowly turning into an appealing alternative to Lionsgate or The Weinstein Company for independent producers wanting to find an experienced and smart distributor for their films.  That was the case today when Summit acquired domestic and some international rights to Doug Liman's "Fair Game," a dramatic thriller based on the true story of outed CIA agent Valerie Palme.

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